The warmer months are finally approaching here in Massachusetts, and I am ready to say goodbye to my sweaters, gloves, and boots for a few months. So, it’s time to bring out the bins of clothes I haven’t touched since October - full of T-shirts, shorts, swimsuits, and let’s not forget the one dedicated entirely to sandals and flip-flops! I know I’m not the only one who looks forward to sliding on a pair of sandals before walking out the door to do errands or go to the beach. Sneakers and socks are reserved for work and the gym for a few months!
There are plenty of pros and cons to flip flop/barefoot season, which all vary person to person. Foot gurus can go on and on with this, but I’m here to try to keep this simple! Let’s talk about some tips for summer shoe choices and how to get your feet prepared for our next season:
If you think you’re going to be on your feet for a while, try to pick a shoe that has a heel strap or another strap really close to the front of your ankle. Why?
More straps literally help keep the shoe attached to your foot, instead of scrunching your toes around the 1 strap between your toes all the time. More straps = less chance of foot cramps, calf cramps, and developing hammertoes!
Choose a shoe with similar heel height and support to other shoes you wear throughout the year if you’re going to do a lot of standing or walking. Why?
When we change the height of our heel relative to our toes, and add or take away a significant amount of arch support, we change the position of our ankles, knees, hips, and low back. Your body will likely thank you for staying in a position your joints are used to if you’re going to be standing for several hours or walking several miles!
Look for shoes with a relatively flexible sole that way they move with you. Why?
If it’s really stiff, the shoe will basically fight you as you walk, making walking far less efficient and more taxing on the body.
With all that in mind, give these exercises a try over the next few weeks. Let’s work on our foot/ankle mobility & strength now so that we’re ready for the shoes that give us a bit more freedom!
We’re doing this calf raise a little differently to get as many muscles as we can!
Hold onto a chair or counter for balance
As you push up onto your toes, scoop your heels in toward each other creating an arch
As you slowly lower your heels down to the ground, push your heels away from each other to flatten your arch
Think about drawing a calf-circle with each heel. Try 20-30 times!
3-Way Calf Stretch
Again, let’s stretch all around our ankle joint!
Get into a half kneeling position to work on your front ankle
Drive you knee straight forward, then over the big toe, then over the pinky toe
Hold each position for a few seconds, back off, then repeat 5-10 times. Make sure your heel stays on the ground!
I recommend starting doing this in sitting, 1 foot at a time.
Keep you foot flat on the ground, our goal here is to create more arch WITHOUT curling our toes
Think about bringing the knuckle of your big toe back toward your heel
If you’re doing this correctly, you should feel the muscles in your arch and a little bit on the top of your ankle working. Try 20 times!
Three exercises in one here. Try each one at least 10 times before moving on to the next!
1. Lift JUST your big toe off the ground. Try not to let your other toes lift up or curl. This is hard! Use your fingers to help lift the toe or keep the other toes down if you need to as you get started
2. Lift everything EXCEPT the big toe off the ground. Same rules as above
3. Lift all your toes up together (finally!), spread them apart as far as you can, and reach for as much floor as possible. Let’s see how much space you can get between your toes!
Self Midfoot & Toe Stretch
Cross 1 leg over the other. Place the fingers of your opposite hand between your toes to spread them out
Then, play around with gently twisting clockwise, counterclockwise, and up/down through the middle of your foot
This should feel good especially if your feet is feeling tight or crampy. Do this for a minute or two!
Got foot problems? Let us help! Dr. Dina and Dr. Lauren are Functional Gait Specialist Certified through Gait Happens. Call or email for more evaluation and treatment information at 857-267-6033 or email@example.com